Sunday, February 17, 2013
A Very Hip Duck
I was delighted the other day to have the opportunity to film a duck I have long wanted to get pictures of - the Red-breasted Merganser. You have to admit, this is one cool looking bird. I'm not sure what the function of the spiked feathers is, but they give it a very distinctive look. You can get some idea of how fast they swim by the way the water is piled up in front of the duck.
Finding a particular species is most often a matter of finding the right type of habitat. The places I have normally frequent do not "fit the bill" as it were for this species. It wasn't until I tried a new spot with different characteristics that I was able to see them. In this case, it was a shallow bay where they could chase small fish. They prefer shallow, sheltered salt water.
They dive and chase down small fish, although they will also eat crustaceans, aquatic insects and the occasional frog. Their summer range covers most of Canada and the arctic while they like to winter along the coast of U. S.
When I first spotted them at a distance, I thought it was a flock of scaup. The general body pattern looks similar from a distance. I had stopped just to check out this spot and didn't take my camera out. When I saw the birds, I decided to stay for a few minutes anyway and set up the camera. Once I had the camera on the tripod, the birds moved off and I thought that was the end of that. There was a trio of Trumpeter Swans in the corner of the bay eating aquatic grass, so I decided to stay for a while. I'm glad I did. I thought the flock of mergansers were nervous because of my presence and had moved away. It turned out they were simply actively fishing and moving around the bay. A while later, they returned and swam fairly close to where I was standing, allowing me to capture a few good images.